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14 ways to travel the world without leaving your sofa

May 25, 2020
11 min read
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Have you been stuck inside for weeks? Us too.

Though some destinations are cautiously lifting travel restrictions and people are learning to navigate a new version of normal, it's safe to say this Memorial Day weekend — typically one of the biggest weekends for travel of the year — will look a little different.

If you're staying home this holiday weekend, it's a great time to start planning your next real-life adventure. And, in the meantime, we rounded up some of our favorite ways to travel the world without leaving the comfort of your home. So, break out your comfiest sweats and buckle up for your next virtual trip.

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Celebrate summer at Stonehenge

(Photo by Cj Smith/EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cj Smith/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Stonehenge boasts some of the most popular summer solstice celebrations on Earth, a magical event you'll just have to see to believe. And while you probably won't be able to visit in person this year, the show must still go on.

You'll be able to livestream the summer solstice at Stonehenge this summer. Just tune in to the English Heritage Facebook account, where they'll be broadcasting the sunset on June 20 at 9:26 p.m. BST and sunrise on June 21 at 4:52 a.m. BST. They'll be live for at least 30 minutes before sunrise and sunset — and no matter where you are in the world, you can join in on the fun.

Discover a museum

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. (Photo by Luis Davilla/Getty Images)
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. (Photo by Luis Davilla/Getty Images)

Iconic museums from the Guggenheim in New York City to the Louvre in Paris are available through Google Arts & Culture, a platform that allows you to take digital tours of some of the world's most famous museums. You can browse through all the available museums, and even see some of the most famous pieces of art up close. Historic sites, such as the Palace of Versailles, are also available to tour through Google. The best part? Access is 100% free.

If you want something that sparks your inner child (or keeps your actual children occupied), you're in luck. The Children's Museum of Houston is sharing do-it-yourself experiments, as well as activities and behind-the-scenes exhibit content on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. You can make a cardboard kazoo, listen to story time and even learn about how the water cycle works. This is a surefire way to pass the time if you've found yourself suddenly homeschooling your kids.

Read more: No travel required: 10 iconic museums you can tour online

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Take a cooking class

(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images)

Is there anything better than having a home-cooked meal from an Italian grandma? We don't think so. While Italy will start to reopen to tourists in early June, you can still get your fix of some incredible Italian cooking before your next trip there, whenever it may be.

Nonna Nerina, an 84-year-old Italian grandmother in Palombara Sabina, Italy, has set up a virtual cooking class on Airbnb Experiences. Here, she'll virtually teach you how to make Italian classics such as ravioli, gnocchi and fettuccine. Just note that she only teaches classes on weekends; the weekday classes are taught by her granddaughter. Plus, if you enter your email, you can get 25% off the class for a limited time. Better yet, the classes are on sale, too. For example, her class usually costs $100 but is just $60 right now.

Related: How to plan a bucket list trip to Italy with points and miles

Go on a ride at Disney

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The magic isn't over just because most Disney parks remain closed. You can stream virtual Disney rides from parks around the world, from Florida to France, in the comfort of your own home. How's that for a bargain on a Disney vacation?

Related: How to take your kids on virtual Disney rides around the world

Explore parks and attractions

(Photo by Gonzalo Azumendi/Getty Images)

Take a trip to the great outdoors from, well, indoors. You can virtually explore national parks and famous attractions around the country, all courtesy of Google Arts & Culture. Think: the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Alcatraz Island. Better yet, they're all accessible for free and you won't have to wait in a single line.

Google Earth can even help you enjoy the cherry blossom blooms around the world, though the season has passed. From the Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade in Tokyo to the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., there's something for everyone here. You could easily spend hours taking virtual tours.

Visit a botanic garden

The Bronx Botanical Garden. (Photo by Hiroyuki Matsumoto./Getty Images)
The Bronx Botanical Garden. (Photo by Hiroyuki Matsumoto./Getty Images)

A handful of botanic gardens around the country are also offering virtual tours for travelers to enjoy. The indoor conservatory at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., for example, is temporarily closed to the public. In the meantime, though, you can take a virtual tour of the gardens and soak in all of the beautiful scenery.

Join an art class

(Photo by Dean Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dean Mitchell/Getty Images)

A handful of universities are hosting free, virtual art classes, according to Artsy, and many have a global perspective. You can study the history of Japan through images or discover ancient Egyptian art and antiquities. You know what they say: If you can't travel, you might as well spend a few hours every week looking at pictures of places you wish you were. Right?

Listen to live music

(Photo by Rapeepong Puttakumwong/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Did coronavirus derail your plans to travel to a major musical event like South by Southwest (SXSW), the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or Coachella?

Fortunately, a number of bands and musicians are performing "couch tours," as many of their concerts were canceled. Acording to NPR, travelers can also catch live, virtual jazz performances, electronic festivals, classical concerts and more.

Instead of watching the annual National Memory Day Concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, for example, you can catch the event (and a performance from the National Symphony Orchestra) online at 8 p.m. Billboard also highlighted concerts by the Dropkick Murphys (performing to an empty Fenway Park on May 29 at 6 p.m.), and a livestream performance by David Guetta from New York on May 30 at 7 p.m.

Watch a movie

(Photo by Dennis Fischer Photography/Getty Images)

Give yourself a much-needed break from all the craziness out there and curl up on the sofa with one of these feel-good and wanderlust-worthy films this weekend. Some of our top picks include "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Mamma Mia" — but there are plenty of classic flicks and television series to choose from.

Anthony Bourdain's famous documentary, "Parts Unknown," is coming back to Netflix on June 1. The only catch? It will only be available in the U.K. and Ireland. Here's hoping it's a good sign, though, and will be available to stream in the U.S. and rest of the world soon.

Related: Stuck at home? Stream these 12 movies to cope with travel wanderlust

Live like a royal for the day

(Photo by Cultura/Seb Oliver/Getty Images)

Put on your crown and get ready to take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace. You can take a peek at the Throne Room, Grand Staircase, White Drawing Room and more. The entire palace isn't up for viewing, but it's certainly enough to keep you occupied for hours.

Related: Using points and miles to get to London

Take a trip to the beach

(Photo by Pawel Toczynski/Getty Images)

In need of some sunlight and vitamin D? Enjoy the sun and sand in St. Lucia. All you have to do is go to @TravelSaintLucia's Instagram Live to take part. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they go live and show off things like the island's beautiful sunsets, rainforests and more. You might be so inspired, you book a trip there when the island nation reopens to Americans on June 4.

Another option? The beautiful island of Bermuda is also hosting a daily livestream. Put on some Jimmy Buffet, make yourself a piña colada and enjoy your makeshift beach day.

Learn a magic trick

(Photo by krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images)
(Photo by krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images)

Airbnb recently began offering virtual "travel" experiences, so you can book online activities from around the world right at home.

For just $20, you can take a magic class with Martin, a Guinness World Record-holding magician based in Berkhamsted, U.K. His class will show you magic tricks you can perform with everyday objects, such as playing cards, phones, rings, money, sweets and even fire. Prepare for some mind-reading, too, as well as the psychology that turns a trick into magic. The class is an hour and a half long, and availability is open through the end of June.

Make Portuguese tapas

(Photo by Rob Lawson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Lawson/Getty Images)

Another Airbnb Experience that's sure to please? This Portuguese tapas class. You'll learn how to make popular dishes such as tuna paté and açorda alentejana — and of course, plenty of sangria. The host, Joana, spent 10 years teaching hotel management before opening her own restaurant in Lisbon. The class costs $17 per person and is available through September.

Related: Vacation rental guests and hosts are all feeling the cancellation crunch.

Hang out with wild animals

(Photo by David Merron Photography/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Merron Photography/Getty Images)

OK, so you might not be hanging out with real penguins in real life. But for only $12, you can spend an hour learning about the history of African penguins, as well as some little-known facts and insights. You can even build your own penguins from items lying around the house. Your host, Jon, is based in Cape Town, South Africa and his class is sure to be a hit with the whole family. You can check out even more of these virtual experiences here.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023